The Week’s Word Is “Emotions.”
A brief Word Wednesday this week as its half-term here in the UK, meaning my children are at home from school.
Much as I’d like to pretend it’s going to be a fun week filled with sunshine, harmony, and flowers, I’ve been doing this gig long enough to know that the four of us under one roof for an extended period of time is going to test all of our nerves. No better time, then, to check out DK’s My Mixed Emotions.
What Is My Mixed Emotions?
Subtitled “Learn to love your feelings,” My Mixed Emotions” is a slim volume (80 pages), designed to help your children understand how they’re feeling, why they might be feeling that way, and how to calm themselves down when things become a little too much. The book is aimed at pre-teens. There is no attempt to deal with the emotional turmoil that puberty can bring.
My Mixed Emotions uses emoji-style icons to illustrate emotions, employing four main ones – Happiness, Anger, Fear, and Sadness. The book stresses the importance of all emotions, even the ones with negative connotations. It opens with a simplified biological explanation of emotions, which describes how and where your brain deals with stress and fear. Next is an interesting series of diagrams that shows where particular feelings might manifest themselves in your body. These are sort of obvious when (as an adult) you look at them but are something we take for granted. They make an excellent pictorial guide to explain to children how they might feel physically, in a given set of circumstances.
After its opening preamble, the book then defines the four key emotions, how to recognize them, how to promote them, in the case of happiness and how to mitigate them in the cases of anger, fear, and sadness. There is a section on the importance of relaxation to well-being and guides to helping your child relax through breathing and gentle exercise.
The “Feeling Fear” and “Feeling Sad” sections detail some specific life obstacles; how they may make a child feel and some simple ways to help them come to terms with difficult events in their lives. These subjects include arriving at a new school, separation and divorce, loss of a loved one, and bullying.
Finally, the book celebrates “The Wonder of You,” helping to build a growth mindset, and being the “best me there is.” (For more help with this, do also check out Matthew Syed’s Awesome) At the very end of the book, there is an emotions dictionary, with keywords that help describe each of the four key emotions, and a glossary of emotion-related terms.
Why Read My Mixed Emotions?
In the cold light of day, the emotions your children are going through seem obvious. Helping them come to terms with the roiling maelstrom coursing through them is something any good parent would do. When your child is beating the floor, refusing to put their shoes on, five minutes after you were meant to leave the house, for the 10th day in a row, that zen-like center of calm we hope to project may well be in danger of slipping. (By which I mean, will slip – I’d be embarrassed to admit the number of times I’ve embarked upon the school run the very embodiment of the anger diagram on page 10). This little book is an excellent aid to help all parties resolve emotional strife in a calm manner, which will hopefully result in happier children, happier parents, and less odd looks from the neighbors.
My Mixed Emotion serves as a gentle reminder to parents that their children aren’t behaving this way because their sole purpose in life is to wind you up. It’s also an excellent tool for your children to understand why sometimes they feel like the whole world is against them. More importantly, it provides practical advice that both parties can follow to help head off full-scale explosions.
With its emoji representations of feelings and its bright blocky colors, the book is immediately engaging. Sown throughout are inspirational quotes from the likes of Roald Dahl, Dr. Seuss, and The Wizard of Oz. Some of them might seem a little trite to adults but to children, they can offer a comforting perspective and a much-needed signal boost of the book’s message.
One of my main reasons for picking up this book is that my middle son suffers from mild repetitive anxiety about things that, to me, often seem entirely trivial. Sometimes helping him overcome his issues feels like an impossible task. Whilst I don’t think My Mixed Emotions will completely halt his anxiety, it does offer some additional coping mechanisms and perspectives for both for children and parents.
In a busy, stressful world our children’s mental health can seem like a fragile thing, at the whims and mercy of countless different factors. Books like My Mixed Emotions are invaluable for helping children come to terms how they are feeling and helping caring adults navigate the roller-coaster ride that pre-teen emotions can bring.
Disclosure: I received a copy of this book in order to write this review.